****UPDATE on 20/01/16*****
There’s a special meeting of the Special Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny
Committee at 9.30am on Friday the 22/1/16.
Come along to support Llandysul library and listen to the discussion in the Council chamber at Ceredigion County Offices, Penmorfa, Aberaeron, SA46 0PA.
Here is where I think that we are in the fight to keep Llandysul Library open.
This is all my own opinion. There is no committee running this campaign, just the good will of the community. Other people will have different views.
On Tuesday 12 January at the protest before the Council meeting at the Penmorfa Offices a group of us handed in a petition of over 600 names to the Council Leader Ellen ap Gwynn . The petition had been signed by people from near and far on the internet via Change.org and in the shops in and around Llandysul. It was a valiant turn out as the weather was atrocious. This was reported the next day in the Cambrian News.
The Council’s consultation closed on Monday 4th January. Just to remind you, these are the option which Ceredigion County Council gave the residents of Ceredigion.
- the closure of Llandysul library and reduction of the mobile library fleet by axeing one large and one small vehicle;
- the closure of Llandysul and one of either Aberaeron, Cardigan or Lampeter libraries;
Although they have not had time to collate the consultation yet, the Tivyside has reported that in the meeting on the 12th January Councillor Dafydd Edwards mentioned some of the early results.
“Out of just over 400 responses, just 42 favoured option 1 and 90 favoured option 2 while 319 disagreed with the options.”
It will be interesting to see the full results of the Consultation and will it be ignored or will they listen to the residents of Ceredigion?
I’ve also been to a meeting arranged by Councillor Peter Evans which involved Mr Arwyn Morgan Head of of ICT and Customer and Mr Gareth Griffiths the Library Service Manager. This was a small meeting. Mr Morgan and Mr Griffiths are employees of the Council not elected officials. I wanted to listen to them and see if I could understand their figures. But they failed to bring the exact figures to run the building with them, they said that they would send them on – still waiting. I still only know what we were been told at the beginning that it costs £25,398 to run the building including the rates which are £5,543 and that excludes the wages. No breakdown.
Mr Morgan was determined that the building would be closing even telling us that Dysgu Bro would be leaving at the end of March even though the decision to close the library has not been taken.
He was not willing to consider cutting hours. He was not willing to move librarians around the county to facilitate this. His only concern was to close the library and the cash office then the costs of running those services would no longer show on his department’s accounts. The building would be ‘empty’ and it would then be handled by the Estates department.
What does that mean? Will the building be empty?
Well, as we know the Council leases the building from the Church and the council have to keep the building in good repair. The Church has a hall there which they use regularly and that is included in the lease. The Police rent a section of the building for £1,800 which includes heating and electricity. So, Estates will still have to pay oil, electricity, insurance, interior and exterior maintenance costs and rates.
So what will the overall savings to the Council be by closing the library and cash office?
Answers on a postcard please, addressed to the head of Estates, who is about to get a new set of bills on their 2016-2017 ledger.
It all sounds a bit like juggling to me.
Mr Morgan said that a group of volunteers could run the library. He charges the volunteer run library at New Quay £1,280 per annum for using the Council library service, including the software licence and the broadband. He said that we could keep the computers in the library and the shelves. He also said that the library does not have to be in that building. Anyone got space for the library in their building in Llandysul – hopefully at zero rent?
Another option which he offered was that if the Community pays the service costs the library service pays 50% of the staffing costs. I wasn’t sure that I understood this option very well. But it sounds very expensive to me. Probably looking at an annual cost of £30,000 to £40,000 for the status quo. Any philanthropic millionaires out there?
Mr Morgan said that the timetable now is that the Council will discuss the Consultation and Llandysul Library in February. If they vote in favour of closing the library Councillor Peter Evans could ‘call it in’ (which I think means that the department involved have to review their recommendation). Mr Morgan said that he expected Councillor Evans to call in the decision and then went on to say that he expected/hoped that in March the vote to go in favour of closing the library. At which point he has to give staff 90 days notice and then he can close the library – probably mid-June.
I’m just going to repeat part of that:
Mr Morgan said that he expected Councillor Evans to call in the decision and then went on to say that he expected / hoped that in March the vote to go in favour of closing the library.
The reason why I’ve typed expected / hoped in bold is that I cannot remember exactly what he said. But, what I think he meant was and I’m sorry if I’ve got the wrong end of the stick is that to him there is only one outcome and that is to close the library and cash office and get them off his accounts so that he can show that his department has made the required savings. As much as Councillor Evans and many other Councillors will object to the closing of the library they are at the mercy of their accountants and the savage cuts which are being made.
To me, it also shows that whatever the calling in procedure is, it is not going to be an independent assessment of the situation. It will look at the numbers and that’s it. It will not consider the impact on communities who use the services. Will there be an Equality Impact Assessment?
Democracy is dead, long live the accountants and bankers!
People are asking me where are we with the library? I think we’re up the Teifi in our coracle without a paddle. I am at loss as to where we go from here but…
Ymlaen â ni!
On the up side and I have to think that there is something which we can do, even if it’s being a mosquito which keeps biting:
it’s National Libraries Day on Saturday 6th February.
We should celebrate our library and the building it’s in – whilst we can.
What can we do?
Story telling corner? Poetry reading?
The idea of National Libraries Day is to get more people to join the library and use it. It’s never too late and it would help show that people do want Llandysul Library to remain open.
Can you help me do this?
Please contact me via email firstname.lastname@example.org.